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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Sally Tomato

Strange Divinity (video)

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual project. It's part music video, part film, part science fiction story, part rock opera and a bit more. The music is what I tend to expect from Sally Tomato, creative and artistic progressive rock. The video runs for about an hour and is quite a unique experience. There are a lot of aspects that should be covered separately here.

First, let's look at the story. I'm not completely sure of all the elements of the story, as some of it seems a bit obscure for me to grasp. That said, the basic premise is science fiction based. It's all about alternate realities and the massive power that being able to choose from among various outcomes would be. It's not a new concept, it's been in science fiction for decades, and I actually wrote a short story that shares some elements with this story ten years or so ago. I suppose because of that story, I feel some connection to this one.

It should be mentioned that, while alternate realities has long been a feature of science fiction tales, new developments find it showing up in actual science. There is a growing movement in the community of physicists that believe in the existence of alternate realities, so perhaps those types of stories are not far removed from the truth.

This particular story seems to have some hints of addiction and the consequences of that, especially at the end. There is also sort of a metaphysical element of deities. That part definitely confused me, and some of the costumes seemed a bit silly to me. Still, it's just a small portion of what this is.

As a film, this has a real indie kind of vibe. It runs a lot of the time like a silent movie, with text cards explaining some of the story. There is a real psychedelic vibe at times. The choice of scenes and settings work well a lot of the time, creating some pretty amazing visuals. I also really like the clever use of color and black-and-white footage.

When it comes to the music, there is some really powerful stuff built into this. There are some highlights, but even the less potent stuff still works quite well. I'd suggest listening to the music without the video to really appreciate it. Alternately, just watch it as an extended music video rather than trying to follow the storyline. I found that attempting to get the narrative together distracted from my enjoyment of the music. When you just let it flow without too much brain power devoted, though, it works better.

As a piece of art this is unique and compelling. As story-telling, it doesn't work as well for me as I had hoped, since I found parts of the story a bit silly, while other aspects eluded my understanding to some degree. The music taken by itself has some particularly powerful moments. Your mileage may vary, and perhaps you'll be more drawn to the story. Either way, though, the combination of video imagery and music works very well.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at:

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